Movie Diary 8/20/2018

The Demi-Paradise (Anthony Asquith, 1943). Laurence Olivier as a Russian engineer who comes to England during the war to work on a ship propeller design. Romance develops between Ivan and the daughter (Penelope Dudley-Ward, future wife of Carol Reed) of the shipbuilding magnate (Felix Aylmer). The movie was obviously intended as a reminder to audiences that the Russians are our friends now, so there’s plenty of sideways-Ninotchka humor and Olivier cuteness on display. His performance is busy and expansive – he’s always up to something – and so totally artificial that it leaves you with nothing to really hold on to. (And yet he’s amusing, still.) Movie never mentions the Nazi-Soviet pact, which is damned convenient.

Esther Waters (Ian Dalrymple, Peter Proud, 1950). A soapy adaptation of a George Moore novel, with Kathleen Ryan (from Odd Man Out) as a maid in a horsey estate. Footman Dirk Bogarde romances her, as indeed he romances a daughter of the rich homeowners. When he leaves, the maid is pregnant, as you knew she would be. The movie’s got a straightforward trot, and Bogarde looks underfed. Ryan carries the weight, but the film never rises above potboiler status.

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